2020 NFL Power Rankings After Offseason Based on Opening Lines for Weeks 1-16
After the NFL releases its schedule for the upcoming season, the race is on between sportsbooks to be the first to open lines for not just Week 1, but every game of the season – with the exception of Week 17, which most won’t touch this early due to the uncertainty around who’s playing/resting.
We got those opening lines for the 2020 NFL season very early. Using these lines, we’ve calculated the sum of spreads for each team’s first 15 games, resulting in an ATS +/- for the season. This metric gives you a look at the expectations for each team this season – our power rankings.
This differs slightly from a traditional power ranking, since it factors in NFL strength of schedule and is also rooted in numbers instead of pure speculation. Using a consistent method each year also allows us to draw trends based on past results, which you’ll see below.
NFL Power Rankings Based on ATS +/-
To be clear, these are opening lines from the offseason for every week. We will not consider what the lines open at ahead of each week during the season. Obviously, with the way NFL spreads work – the favorite is giving up points – the more negative the ATS +/- is, the better the team is expected to be.
The Chiefs and Ravens’ ATS +/- numbers are the best we’ve seen in the last five years. The next best is the 2017 Patriots, who had a sum of -98.5. They went on to lose in Super Bowl 52. Washington’s ATS +/- of 93 is the second-worst over the last five years, only being ousted by the 2017 Cleveland Browns, who went 0-16.
What can we take from this data? Let’s have a look back at the past five years:
Post-Offseason Power Rankings Over Last 5 Seasons
Trends from ATS +/- in Past Seasons
- A team from the top four in ATS +/- has won the Super Bowl in four of the last five seasons
- A team from the top four in ATS +/- has made the Super Bowl in each of the last five seasons
- At least one team from the top three in ATS +/- has missed the playoffs in each of the last five seasons, and at least two of the top five have missed the playoffs in each of the last four
- The team with the worst ATS +/- has never won more than five games in each of the last five seasons
- The team with the best ATS +/- has only won the Super Bowl once in the last five years
- At least two of the worst five teams in ATS +/- have gone on to lose 11+ games in each of the last five seasons
- A team ranked between 18th and 25th of the ATS +/- has made the Super Bowl in four of the last five seasons
- A team ranked between 18th and 25th of the ATS +/- has made their respective conference championship each of the last five years
- The two teams with the worst ATS +/- have never made the playoffs in the last five years
- Only two teams who were in the bottom-five in ATS +/- have made the playoffs over the last five years (2018 Colts and 2017 Rams)
- At least half of the top ten teams in ATS +/- have missed the playoffs in each of the last five years
What Do the Trends Suggest for 2020?
One of Kansas City, Baltimore, San Francisco, or New Orleans will be playing in Super Bowl 55. It’s no coincidence that these are four of the top five teams in terms of Super Bowl odds, as well. But a repeat for the Chiefs isn’t likely based on the ATS +/- trends over the last five years.
We’re also looking at one of the Chiefs, Ravens, or 49ers missing the 2020-21 NFL playoffs.
There’s a very good chance the team the Chiefs/Ravens/Niners/Saints will face in Super Bowl 55 will be one of these teams: the Chargers, Bears, Texans, Cardinals, Falcons, Lions, Broncos, or Raiders.
It’s bad news for Washington, however. As the team with the worst ATS +/-, the trend says they won’t win more than five games in 2020. One of the Jaguars, Panthers, Bengals, and Giants will join them in losing 11+ games, as well.
You can also write off Washington and Jacksonville from making the playoffs, and it’s very unlikely any of the other three teams in the bottom-five of ATS +/- will play more than 16 games this season.
Perhaps the craziest one to imagine is trying to pick out the five teams in the top ten who will miss the playoffs. Take a swing: Kansas City, Baltimore, San Francisco, New Orleans, Seattle, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and Green Bay.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.